Despot John Ugljesa Mrnjavcevic (Lord of Ser 1365-1371)

Silver "helmet and sceptre" type. 18mm, 1.034g.

Obverse: Coat of arms of Mrnjavcevic brothers, Vukasin and Ugljesa, used until Vukasin was crowned as a king in 1365. Head with a sceptre with three balls on top is used as a helmet decoration. Helmet is facing right. Latin description: x MONITII D ESPOT IOII (MONEY OF THE DESPOT JOHN) around. Moneyer mark O under helmet.

Reverse: Emperor Uros Nemanjic enthroned, with halo, holding cross tipped sceptre. Serbian Cyrillic description: bФb (STEFAN) on the left and ЦPb (CZAR - EMPEROR) on the right. Moneyer mark Greek letter delta inside throne on the right side and II on the left side.

Reference: J 17 2, Jov 17 2, I (17.1), Lj XIV-11

Comment: This is extremely rare coin. I cannot emphasis how rare this is!

It’s more rare then his brother Vukasin coins, Vukasin wife queen Jelena coins or even coins of their son Marko, well know in Serbian history and folklore as Marko Kraljevic.

After the sudden death of emperor Dusan in 1355 empress Jelena continued to rule Ser region. After her withdrawal from political scene in 1365, emperor Uros, her son, gave Ugljesa title despot and Ser region.

In September 1371, he and his brother decided to organise themselves and advance to today’s Bulgaria against the Ottomans. The Serbian army numbering around 70,000 men met the Ottoman army at Battle of Maritsa on 26th September 1371. The Ottomans cowardly attacked the Serbian Army while they rested night before the battle was to take place on the open field and Vukasin and his brother Ugljesa were killed during the surprise attack. This ended Ser state and the city is taken by despot Manuel II Palaiologos who later became Byzantine emperor 1391-1425.

Last Serbian emperor Uros Nemanjic died few month after the death of Mrnjavcevic brothers. Therefore this coin is a bit of a puzzle. If emperor Uros survived Mrnjavcevic brothers by few month how is it that Ugljesa minted this coin type with emperor being shown with halo what is normally done posthumously?

One thing is for sure it is not joint issue!

Was it a propaganda mint showing diminishing power of the emperor and Nemanjic dynasty since brothers defeated emperor Uros in the first battle of Kosovo in 1369? If that’s the case then this coin must have been minted between that victory in 1369 and his death couple years later in 1371.

Another possibility is that image on the obverse is not emperor Uros but first Serbian emperor, his father, Stefan Dusan!

In any case Ugljesa chose to mint coins with his name and title on the reverse and imperial reference on the obverse. Interestingly his brother King Vukasin doesn’t mint coins with Uros or Dusan on the obverse.

Until 1980s this money was attribute to despot John Oliver who served in emperor Dusan court until 1355. But since he was never an independent ruler and the coat of arms of Mrnjavcevic brothers is on reverse this is enough evidence that here we have the incredibly rare money of Serbian Despot John Ugljesa Mrnjavcevic.

Reference: #DUM01

Not For Sale

Estimated Value: 2000 - 2500 - 3000




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